Best of our wild blogs: 31 May 12

If you missed the actual event
from Festival of Biodiversity 2012

Trying to piece everything together
from Nature rambles

Bioluminescence in Mushrooms.. Walking Through Pandora
from Macro Photography in Singapore

From Belukar Track To Lornie Trail Part 2
from Beauty of Fauna and Flora in Nature

from The annotated budak

The Busy, Busy Dragonflies
from Macro Photography in Singapore

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Pasir Ris forest may soon disappear

Eunice Toh The New Paper 31 May 12;

It may just be the size of two football fields.

But for some time now, this small sliver of land has been home to jungle chickens, wild boars, sea eagles and other wildlife.

For how much longer, though?

That is the question some residents are asking about the forested area behind Pasir Ris Heights.

The area is understood to be earmarked for development.

It is sandwiched by two other plots of land, which are also forested.

All three have been gazetted for residential use.

On April 12, The New Paper reported that the plot of land, at the intersection of Elias Road and Pasir Ris Drive 3, had been sold to Elitist Development.

Four days later, URA issued a press release, saying that the land parcel, at the intersection of Pasir Ris Drive 3 and 10, was up for tender.

It is the sliver of land in between whose fate is still unknown.

According to URA's Master Plan 2008, the woodland has been labelled as "subject to detailed planning".

A Pasir Ris grassroots leader said there has been talk of the area being turned into an international school, but no plans have been finalised.

Said grassroots senior for Pasir Ris West Division, Mr Ng Cher Pheng, 58: "All we know is that the area is reserved for (the school)."

To the residents who live in the terraced houses beside it, the area is a welcome jungle in their backyard, providing some relief from the concrete all around.

Naturally, they are sad to hear that this may disappear.

Fresh air

Said a retiree in her 60s, who wanted to be known only as Madam Lee: "I like the nature. It's great, especially in the morning. The air is very fresh."

Three months ago, she had a memorable encounter with a wild boar.

She was driving her car into her driveway when the animal appeared.

It banged into her side wheel and dropped unmoving for several seconds.

Then, it shot up and went straight back into the woods.

Joked Madam Lee: "The first time I see a wild boar, and I almost run it over."

She has lived there for 30 years and remembers when there were still attap houses around.

She said: "Chickens and pigs roamed everywhere. It was like a kampung."

The houses are long gone, but some of the wildlife remain.

Madam Lee's neighbour, businessman Sydney Ong, who is in his 50s, has also had his fair share of wildlife encounters.

Five years ago,when fruits in his garden were in season and ripe, monkeys would come and steal their mangoes.

He said: "It's always been a quiet estate. If what they're saying is true, there'll be construction work, and it'll be a lot noisier. I would rather things stay the same."

Another long-time Pasir Ris resident, who wanted to be known only as Mr Pang, 62, was just as disappointed to hear that the wooded area might be gone.

The retiree, who has visited the place four times in the last couple of weeks, enjoys taking photos of the wildlife there.

He said: "There is a family of white-bellied sea eagles nesting in the woodland. The only other place in the east I've seen this species is at Changi.

"The trees here are one of the oldest in Pasir Ris and the area of this place is so small. I don't understand why they are considering selling it."

But the residents do not have any plans of their own to save the area.

Said Mr Pang: "I don't think writing petitions or having campaigns will help."

His sentiment was shared by Mr Lim Khay Teg, 63 the chairman of the Pasir Ris Beach Park Neighbourhood Committee (NC).

He said: "It's a pity, but sometimes, people's interests will be infringed."

For wildlife consultant Subaraj Rajathurai, 49, the news is not something that surprises him.

He said: "That land has a good variety of birds, but it has never been a reserve or a park. It has always been temporary."

A member of the Nature Society (Singapore), MrRajathurai is afraid that if they were to push hard to conserve this area, another area with greater bio-diversity might be taken away.

He said: "I would like to see this area being kept. But land is scarce and development is unavoidable. Unfortunately, we cannot save everything."

But, he added, it is important to retain some of the agriculture of the area.

He said: "A green corridor would be a good compromise, as it ensures that bio-diversity will continue to exist in the area."

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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Largest green alliance shifts Asian HQ to Singapore

Jose Hong Straits Times 31 May 12;

A LEADING environmental conservation organisation has relocated its Asian headquarters from Japan to Singapore with the aim of working more closely with its regional partners.

BirdLife International is the world's largest alliance of conservation groups with operations in six continents and more than 2.7 million members.

Its move is expected to bring additional firepower to the conservation cause in the region.

For one thing, the organisation plans to launch a US$60 million (S$75 million) Forests of Hope fund by the end of the year. The fund is dedicated to the conservation of tropical rainforests throughout the region, and already has US$5 million in the kitty.

Ms Cristi Nozawa, regional director of BirdLife International's Asia division, said that the group's decision to move to Singapore was based on two reasons: First, as most of its Asian partners are located in South and South-east Asia, relocating to Singapore would allow for closer collaboration with them. Second, Singapore presents opportunities for forging new partnerships with corporate organisations.

'Singapore is trying to achieve a balance between development and being a city-state that takes nature into consideration, and we'd like to contribute to that,' Ms Nozawa said, adding that the group would develop conservation programmes in the region.

Planning the move to Singapore took several years, and since 2008 involved various players, including the Economic Development Board (EDB), the Nature Society (Singapore), and law firm Drew and Napier.

Mr Kelvin Wong, executive director of EDB's International Organisations Programme Office, said BirdLife International would help make Singapore 'a hub for international non-profit organisations to advance their social, economic and developmental efforts in Asia and beyond'.

Nature Society president Shawn Lum said BirdLife International's move will likely result in other conservation groups here holding more meetings and workshops to further the environmental cause.

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Malaysia: Calls to punish perpetrator posting about illegal hunting on the Internet

Wong Pek Mei The Star 31 May 12;

PETALING JAYA: Wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic has lodged a police report, urging stern action be taken against the perpetrator posting about his illegal hunting activities on an online forum.

Traffic South-East Asia legal officer Shenaaz Khan, who lodged the report on May 22, said a forum member, who goes by the username “Marker November”, made several entries discussing his hunting activities on the forum.

“He repeatedly mentions hunting wildlife including sambar deer, barking deer, mousedeer and serow. He explains in detail how to find, track and hunt these animals including the weapons he uses,” said Shenaaz, who lodged the report at the Kelana Jaya police station.

The user has an avatar of a man posing with a weapon and an animal that appears to be a deer.

Shenaaz said there was a complete ban on the hunting of sambar deer and barking deer.

“The Wildlife and Natural Parks Department (Perhilitan) does not issue any hunting licence for these animals.

“Serow is a totally protected species and can only be hunted with a special permit,” she said.

She noted that Marker November acknowledged the serow's protected status and that hunting it was illegal, yet he had killed a serow.

In the online conversation, the user says: “Serow is an animal that is very protected and hunting this species is illegal. But when I see it crossing before my eyes, I can't just watch it go by. Even though it is illegal to shoot (it), it is halal for it to be eaten.”

Marker November also indicated in his postings that Gerik, Perak and Sg Tiang in Perak's Temenggor area were among his hunting sites.

“The illegal hunting of these animals is punishable by law under the Wildlife Protection Act 2010 and carries a mandatory prison term,” said Shenaaz.

She claimed that the website was a forum created by present and former army personnel.

“In the discussions, members talk about various issues pertaining to army procedures and practices,” she said.

Petaling Jaya deputy OCPD Supt Meor Hamdan Meor Mohamad confirmed the report.

Perhilitan: Don’t discuss wildlife hunting techniques online
The Star 2 Jun 12;

PETALING JAYA: Wildlife hunting techniques should not be discussed online because it will only encourage illegal hunting and poaching by irresponsible individuals, warned the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan).

It condemned discussions on how to hunt, find and track animals, saying it could endanger wildlife protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010.

Perhilitan confirmed that it had received a report from wildlife trade monitoring network, Traffic, about an online user who posted his hunting activities on a forum.

He had allegedly written in detail how to trap and hunt protected animals such as the sambar deer and barking deer.

“We are very concerned with this development and are monitoring the forum,” Perhilitan said in a statement.

“We are also monitoring the hotspots mentioned in the forum and will not hesitate to take stern action against parties or individuals who commit offences under the Act.”

Traffic has also lodged a police report on the online user.

Perhilitan reminded the public that a five-year moratorium on deer hunting had been imposed. That means no hunting licence will be issued to hunt sambar deer and barking deer.

Illegal hunting of wildlife is punishable by up to RM500,000 fine or five years’ jail.

Perhilitan urged the public to come forward with any information on illegal wildlife-related activities in their area.

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